why make a short film?
There are many reasons why you might make a short film and these will impact upon how you go about it.
Making a film – be it a short or a feature – is largely a labour of love, so it’s always worth clarifying why you are embarking on such madness and adventure. You could be making it for:
experience - you might want to experiment with pulling a team together to make a story on film.
a showreel - you might be pursuing a career in filmmaking and want to demonstrate your skills.
partnerships - you'd like to try working with certain people to see if you can go on to collaborate on projects in the future.
kudos - you may have found a high profile director/writer/actor, who'll help you raise your filmmaking profile.
testing an idea out - you’ve always thought a certain story would work well on screen or you’ve got a feature film idea that you want to try out on a small scale first.
money - you may have been asked to work on a production with a budget to pay its crew. (This is very rare as short films don’t generally pay any financial dividends.)
Your reasons for making the film should also relate to where the film is going to be shown. You could be making it for:
your front room - many filmmakers start out by testing their ideas on family and friends.
a showreel – maybe you're building a body of work to prove to others that you have filmmaking skills and/or to persuade them to give you some funding to make another film.
the Internet – a great means of getting your work out there and getting feedback from a wide range of people.
television – if your film is of a high quality, a television channel may screen it, especially if it fits into a slot with other short films.
the cinema – one of the hardest places to get a short film screened, but some very successful shorts have been shown before feature films on general release. Some cinemas also run short film events.
festivals – a great opportunity to get your film on the big screen, watched by an audience of industry people and by filmmaking peers.
The answers to ‘why’ and ‘where’ determine the standard you need to work to - there is a minimum standard of technical quality required for broadcast on television and a very different quality for transfer from tape to film.
Why you are making a short film, and where you want it to go, will determine what you shoot on, which equipment you use, budgets, crew numbers and potential markets. You and your team’s objectives set the parameters of what you are going to create. Be clear about these objectives and then crack on with the project.
There are small pots of money available to help create short films – especially those on digital formats. The industry is also full of people who are willing to do favours because they like an idea, they like someone involved with the project or they simply remember what it was like to start out in filmmaking.